by Student Blogger, Hong Xinying
Personal interactions between visitors and representatives of FASS (the student volunteers and Department staff alike) at the booth remain the highlight of FASS @ NUS Day 2010. Visitors whom I approached appreciated this aspect of the event, especially when they were able to obtain personalised accounts of student life from the friendly and approachable volunteers. Incoming student Hannah Lee noted that there was “a lot of interaction” at the event and she commended the student volunteers, tutors and professors alike for a job well done.
While posing as a prospective student, I visited the different booths at the event, asking questions that I thought that a typical student visitor might have asked. Instead of simply taking their word for it, I was able to experience this “interactivity” that many visitors spoke of. People were upfront and friendly, even as the usual scenario at such fairs meant that flyers are thrust left and right to the incoming visitor, especially when the crowds begin to form.
A survey with the some booths had showed that the average student visitor tended to ask pragmatic questions about “career prospects”, the “differences between the disciplines”, as Christopher Navarajan, a Sociology Teaching Assistant had observed. This was generally the case for the social science Departments. Penelope Wang, a first year Psychology Major, concurred that visitors had mostly practical concerns in their inquiries, as she had often been asked to elaborate on the module assessment and the jobs that Psychology Majors could take on upon graduation.
Even then, there were a few exceptions, as some Departments attracted students who are already passionate about the subject. The History Department conducted a quiz on Singaporean History at 3.35pm and there were easily about 10 enthusiastic participants. Farhan, one of the Philosophy Majors who was manning the Philosophy booth, noted that the students that he had talked to were “already ‘converted’”, in the sense that they were already keen on the subject even before attending the event. Rather than posing inquiries about the course requirements, these student visitors were more interested in finding out about the student life and the learning environment in the Philosophy department. The same applied to the Southeast Asian Studies department, as student volunteer, Bryan Yue had noted. He said that visitors to the booth are generally “really interested” in the major and they would “come straight to the booth” even without much prompting from the student volunteers.
The different Department booths, on their end, employed a range of methods at drawing visitors to their booths. Besides information booklets, volunteers handed out additional giveaways. Some Departments organised quizzes and cultural performances as well. Moving away from the crowds, I walked towards the other end of the ground floor, towards the English Language and Literature booths. Nicholas Liu and Koh Xin Tian, both Year 4 English Literature Majors approached me almost immediately, with information booklets on the English Language, English Literature and Theatre Studies. As with previous years, Faculty members donate books for the annual event and the tables were lined with piles of books. The visitors’ comments left on the board were reflective of the yearly custom’s popularity with the visitors, as most comments had thanked the Department for the books that they had taken away with them. BooksActually, an independent bookstore, had also donated goodie bags for the visitors of the English department booth. Packaged in a brown paper bag, the bag contained two copies of the now-defunct Singa: Literature in Singapore magazine and a wooden pencil, each of which was individually inscribed with the name of a famous writer.
Next to the crowded tables of free books, the Theatre Studies booth featured the portfolios that students had done for the introductory module. The portfolio constitutes a considerable portion of the assessment for that module. Costume portfolios and intricately-built set pieces were among some of the works that were displayed at the booth. Similarly, the Communications and New Media booth displayed the works of the students, letting their achievements to vouch for the rich, hands-on learning opportunities that the course provides.
At the Geography booth, the student volunteers informed visitors about the study abroad opportunities that were exclusive to the department in an attempt to sway students into joining the Department. Valerie Wee, a Year 2 Geography Major, said that she would try to “promote the joint minor programme between NUS and the University of Toronto” in an attempt to draw interest to the subject. Globes of various shapes and sizes were also on display, while volunteers gave out ferreo rocher chocolates to visitors. The Philosophy Department gave away free post-it pads designed by Assistant Professor John Holbo. The NUS Philosophy post-it pad contains his illustrations of Greek philosophers, as well as the tagline: “People Helping People Refute People”. Friendly volunteers at the Political Science booth handed out brightly coloured ‘keyboard brushes’ to visitors while encouraging them to take a closer look at the department booth.
The region-specific departments on the other hand, scheduled cultural performances at the lobby. In conjunction with the Japanese Studies Society, the Japanese Studies department scheduled several performances throughout the day, including the Japanese Dance and the Koto Music Performance. Besides the Ranaat by Southeast Asian Studies Programme, the Department had also scheduled Thai Music Performances at 12.40pm and 3.55pm respectively.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience at FASS @ NUS Day 2010. The event was visited by a large number of prospective students, while parents of these student visitors were few in number, as compared to the general NUS Open House. The friendly exchanges with the volunteers gave the student visitors a friendly welcome to the faculty and many left the event more well-informed about the programmes offered at FASS.